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SLI Explores Flyback Booster Possibilities


Huntsville - Aug 12, 2002
The Space Launch Initiative's Propulsion Office recently began a study to determine jet engine requirements to power several flyback booster concepts for a second generation reusable launch vehicle.

The Propulsion Office, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in collaboration with the agency's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, kicked off the study to assess military and commercial jet engines that could power a reusable booster. Together with industry partners General Electric of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pratt & Whitney of East Hartford, Conn., NASA is considering several engine options.

Currently, the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters are parachuted into the sea and retrieved for reuse after providing thrust to the Space Shuttle. The Space Launch Initiative is considering vehicle concepts that would fly first stage boosters back to a designated landing site after separation from the orbital vehicle.

These flyback boosters would be powered by jet engines once the booster rocket engines have shutdown and have been separated from the orbital vehicle.

The powered flyback booster would include several jet engines integrated into the booster capable of providing over 100,000 pounds of thrust. The booster would land on a designated runway shortly after launch.

The study will determine the requirements for the engines and identify risk mitigation activities — how the engine requirements impact current engine designs and how to address risk issues, as well as identify costs associated with risk mitigation and jet engine development and production. The study also will result in candidate jet engine options to pursue for a flyback booster.


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